Joseph Kahn of the NYT and IHT reports that Shanghai students are getting new history textbooks this year, ones that will play down the traditional socialist themes and concentrate on the "economic buzzwords" of the national press.
J.P. Morgan, Bill Gates, the New York Stock Exchange, the U.S. space shuttles and Japan’s bullet train are all highlighted in the new textbooks. There is a lesson on how neckties became fashionable. The French and October Revolutions, once seen as pivotal turning points in world history, now get far less attention. Mao, the Long March, colonial oppression and the Nanjing massacre are now taught only in a compressed history curriculum in junior high school.
Welcome news for anyone who has ever taught or had other experience within the Chinese educational system. But of course there are critics, and they say that the new books simply replace one ideological system with another. Fair enough. But I would submit that at this point, where Chinese textbooks have changed little over the past 50 years, any change is welcome.